It is truly amazing that you can live near somewhere your whole life, but never really SEE it. My home city of Oxford is really one of those places. I wasn’t until family from the USA visited that I did anything touristy, because you seem to take everything for granted when it’s where you’ve grown up, or in my case I did anyway. I went to college in Oxford and I was walking through the Oxford Castle Quarters every day to get there from the bus stop and I didn’t bat an eyelid, and I was ironically studying to get into university to study history! So now, after doing some actual exploring, I’d like to share some top tips about visiting Oxford and where you should go, but I would also welcome any tips from anyone who has visited, because it is wonderful to feel like a tourist in your own city!
Top Ten Things To Do:
1. Oxford Castle. You can take a guided tour around the remains of the castle, which date back to the Norman era. A must do.
2. St Michael’s Church and Saxon Tower. Just off of the bustling Cornmarket Street is this beautiful church. With the tower dating back to 1040, it is considered the oldest remaining building in Oxford. The views from the top are incredible!
3. Explore Oxford University Colleges and buildings. Of course, Oxford is most famous for its world-class university. There are many colleges that comprise of the university, and each are as grand as each other. Take a guided walking tour around the colleges and the Bodleian Library, Radliffe Camera, Sheldonian Theatre and Christ Church, where
4. Go Punting. This is a must do and a fun activity! Hire a punting boat from Magdalen Bridge (you can fit up to 6 people in one boat) and have endless hours of fun while participating in an Oxford tradition.
5. Visit the Turf Tavern! Now unfortunately this tavern isn’t a good as it used to be in my opinion, as it’s now own by the commercial budget company that I’m sure you’ve heard of – Greene King (sighs), so isn’t as unique and wonderful as it once was. However it’s still worth a visit as the foundations and use of this site as a tavern date back to 1381! It’s hidden away down a winding narrow alleyway near the Bridge of Sighs (a pivotal photography spot when you’re visiting Oxford).
6. Go shopping! The new Westgate Shopping Centre is the main shopping district, offering many big name brands, high street retailers and copious places to eat and drink. Nearby Clarenden Centre offers more of these stores, while Queen Street and Cornmarket Street add to the variety.
7. Get in touch with nature. Even though you’re in the city, the University Parks offer the perfect place for a picnic or a stroll and the Oxford Botanic Gardens are absolutely beautiful to walk around, offering a sense of tranquillity while surrounded by a busy city.
8. Take an open top bus ride. Open top bus tours always provide and insight into the city you’re visiting, and Oxford is not the exception! Google ‘city sightseeing Oxford’ to book your tickets!
9. Tour the museums! Being such a historical city, it’s no wonder that there are an abundance of museums to choose from! The Natural History Museum, Pitt Rivers Museum and the Ashmolean all offer a fundamental and educational experience for all who visit.
10. Enjoy a pub crawl in Jericho. There are many wonderful taverns and bars to choose from in the north of the city, a few of the best being the Old Bookbinder’s Ale House, the Eagle and Child, the Lamb and Flag, Rickety Press, the Duke of Cambridge and Jude the Obscure.
These places are great if if you want to explore the wider Oxford area but would like to get out of the city centre, each is as different to each other as can be:
1. Around 10 minutes walk from the city centre is Cowley Road, which is home to a colourful vibrant and exotic scene. Restaurants, shops and bars of many different cultures galore, you’ll certainly be taken in by the contrast of the city centre. You can always walk down it and take the bus back, but parking isn’t exactly easy of the road.
2. Binsey and Port Meadow, where Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, often acquainted! Perfect for a walk on the outskirts of the city but away from the hustle and bustle.
3. Take the bus to Woodstock and Blenheim Palace! The birthplace of Winston Churchill and home to the Dukedom of Marlborough. You can read my latest post about Blenheim here.
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it! Let me know if you’ve visited any of these places, if you’d like to visit Oxford or if you have any more tips for readers in the comments below!
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